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Wrestlers refuse to back down: Form committees to plan their next move in fight against WFI chief

Source: PTI
May 05, 2023 22:14 IST
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Wrestlers form two committees to decide on future course of action

Vinesh Phogat

IMAGE: Wrestlers Bajrang Poonia and Vinesh Phogat (right) speak to the media on Wednesday. Photograph: ANI Photo

The protesting wrestlers on Friday formed two committees to advice them on the future course of action in their fight against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.


The aggrieved wrestlers started the day contemplating their next move after the Supreme Court closed proceedings on their plea even as Sports Minister Anurag Thakur requested them to have faith in the system, saying the investigation will make everything crystal clear.

"Vinesh is discussing it with the legal team. We will inform tomorrow. Today we made two committee -- one is a 31-member committee and the second is a nine-member one. Khap panchayat, farmers and women organisations are there in 31 member committee. The nine-member committee will decide on the wrestling part," said Bajrang Punia.

"I request the sports minister to come and stand on the side of truth."

"We will restart our fight, maybe by going to the high court. This fight is not restricted to three wrestlers," he added.

With the Delhi Police blocking the entry of more wrestlers to the protest site, only a few farmers could reach Jantar Mantar on Friday to extend their support.

The usual fervour was missing as the protest entered the 13th day though political and farmer leaders continued to visit the wrestlers. Congress leaders Kumari Selja, Kiran Choudhary and Anil Kumar extended their support to the grapplers.

"It feels like we are in prison. There are barricades on all sides. The police is also misleading our supporters. So many are sitting on the Delhi borders."

"Our legal team and the mentors are still discussing the next move. We will let you know once we finalise something," Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia had earlier told PTI.

The wrestlers have the option of moving to a lower court or the Delhi High Court if they are not satisfied with the police investigation into the sexual harassment charges against the outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brijbhushan.

The Supreme Court on Thursday closed the proceedings on the women wresters' petition, saying the prayer for an FIR has been answered. The wrestlers said the apex court order was not a setback for them.

The Delhi Police has registered two FIRs, including one on POCSO Act, against Singh.

The police have also recorded statements of five wrestlers, including the minor.

"It is my request to all the sportspersons who are agitating there that whatever their demands were, they were met. Court has also given its directions and they should let an unbiased probe to complete," Thakur said in Lucknow on the sidelines of a Khelo India event.

"Delhi police will do 'doodh ka doodh pani ka pani' and take strict action as per law," he added.

The wrestlers, who alleged that police personnel misbehaved with them on Wednesday night, have threatened to return the awards the government has bestowed on them in the past.

Renowned wrestling coach Mahvir Phogat, the uncle of Vinesh Phogat, who is the face of the protest, also made a similar threat.

He is a Dronacharya awardee, having received the honour in 2016.

"I will return my medals if justice is not delivered in the case," Phogat said.

"The kind of allegations he (WFI chief) faces, action should be taken against him and he should be arrested," Phogat, who had joined BJP over three years ago, added.

When asked if he had spoken to any senior government official or raised the matter at party level, he said, "No there has been no talk so far."

On Thursday, many Khaps held protests including in Hisar, Bhiwani, Jind and Rohtak, expressing solidarity with the wrestlers and demanding that they should be given justice.

Meanwhile, former Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly said he would not like to comment on the issue, as he "doesn't have complete knowledge" about it.

"Let them fight their battle. That's what it is. I really do not know what's happening there. I obviously read in the newspapers and I realise one thing in the sports world that you don't talk about things that you don't have complete knowledge about," Ganguly said.

"So, I hope it gets resolved. The wrestlers have won a lot of medals and brought accolades to the country. Hopefully, it will be resolved," the former BCCI president added. 

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